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Derby plans to bridge gender divide in gaming

May 9, 2005

Computer games development experts at the University of Derby are spearheading a drive to encourage more women to join this male dominated industry.

It follows news that out of 106 applications from prospective students for a place on the new BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming degree course - developed at Derby in association with Microsoft - none were from women.

The University is putting the finishing touches to its new £150,000 Games Development Computer Suite at its Kedleston Road campus, complete with state-of-the-art consoles, software and graphics equipment.

It will hold a series of initiatives, such as taster days and a summer camp for females, enabling them to learn more about the subject area and attract applications for the coming year.

University of Derby Computer Games Lecturer John Sear, based within the Derbyshire Business School, said: "We are very pleased with the interest this new course has already generated, reflecting the demand for jobs in what is a multi-billion pound global industry.

"However, the fact we have had no applications from women reflects a perceived gender divide within the industry. It is something we would like to address to interest more women into this subject area."

Research compiled by prominent female computer games pioneer and Government advisor Lizzie Haines, focusing on the UK games industry, indicates that just 17 per cent of females are employed by the industry. Just two per cent of those hold technical and software development positions.

She said: "Girls don't know that they can work in the games industry, they're not told that games is a good career choice either at school or at university, and if they don't play games themselves it may never occur to them to try it.

"If they do, they find mostly that it's full of challenges and the opportunity to do cutting-edge programming, as well as good pay, great prospects, and the chance to be creative.

"There are very few women in the industry, but those who are say that it's a great place to work, but they'd like more women colleagues. That would help women feel more at home there, and most importantly for the industry itself, it would help companies make more games that females want to play.

"The industry is waking up to this: they want to make games now for everybody, not just for a small group of boys and men in their bedrooms, but games for women and older people, games for whole families to play, games to play sociably over the internet, games to play by phone.

"To do that, they need to know what makes the female half of the world tick. There' s never been a better time for girls to get into games and I applaud the University of Derby's attempt to wake girls up to what's on offer. I hope lots of women apply and start to shake up the games industry."

Kevin McDaniel, Head of the Academic Team at Microsoft, said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with the University of Derby on its new, cutting edge Computer Games Programming Degree which harnesses leading technologies such as DirectX and .NET to teach their students' fundamentals, coupled with tried and tested games development techniques and languages used in industry.

"We believe that students graduating will have a solid background in the art of games programming and general software development and be very successful in their future careers."

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Notes to Editors

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the world-wide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people and its Academic Initiative is committed to advancing research and scholarship, enhancing the teaching and learning experience to empower students to realise their full potential with technology. Visit

About the University of Derby

Since achieving university status in 1992, the institution has developed a student base of 20,000 students. It champions lifelong learning and access for all. Derby has a well regarded e-learning track record and offers leading-edge computer courses and training for undergraduates and postgraduates as well as students in further education. The Derbyshire Business School is one of the University's four academic schools and offers academic expertise in a range of business-focused subject areas such as IT and law as well as developing strong links with business.


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